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March 7, 2024

General Law Committee forwards alcohol, cannabis bills to General Assembly for more debate

YEHYUN KIM / CT MIRROR Activity at the state Capitol.

The state legislature’s General Law Committee on Thursday sent a plethora of bills to the House and Senate floors, notably two proposals that would impact Connecticut’s beer and cannabis industries. 

Here’s a breakdown of several business-related bills that were approved by the committee. 

House Bill 5149

H.B. 5149 would allow: breweries to sell and deliver beer kegs to locations within a five-mile radius of their permitted premises; package stores to provide fee-based spirits tastings for education-related courses, similar to wine education classes offered at such establishments; and Connecticut craft cafe permittees to sell additional alcoholic beverages manufactured in the state.

The proposal faced pushback from both craft brewers and beer wholesalers after it was initially proposed. Breweries said the proposal doesn’t go far enough to help them at a time when the industry continues to struggle coming out of the pandemic, and distributors said the measure would further erode Connecticut’s three-tier alcohol distribution system.

State Sen. Christine Cohen (D-Branford) said the change to craft cafe permittees will help the state’s wine industry, but she acknowledged more needs to be done to help local brewers.

“I hope we can get to a place, perhaps next session or future session, where we can find that happy medium where they (craft breweries) can have a great collaboration and cooperation with our wholesalers, but also be able to sell their own products into places that perhaps our wholesalers are not going to currently,” Cohen said.
House Bill 5235

H.B. 5235 would address recommendations from the state Department of Consumer protection, including specifying that hemp is lawfully produced under federal law and can be transferred and shipped throughout the state. There has previously been confusion regarding hemp products and what is and isn’t legal, so the proposal attempts to make that clear.

Other parts of the bill would require the state Department of Consumer Protection to designate any synthetic cannabinoid, or THC-like substance not derived from cannabis or hemp, as a schedule I controlled substance.

The bill would also restrict cannabis establishments from selling products containing synthetic cannabinoids.

The bill would also modify certain parts of the state’s legal cannabis law to make clear that members of the state’s Social Equity Council and certain employees within the state Department of Consumer Protection are prohibited from holding financial interests in or receiving money from certain cannabis establishments or cannabis-related transactions.
Senate Bill 15

S.B. 15, which was drafted following budget recommendations from Gov. Ned Lamont, would require businesses such as online ticket purchasing websites and food delivery and lodging platforms to clearly disclose the total price for the goods or services they’re offering.
Senate Bill 135

S.B. 135 would cap at $100 the charges for certain license, permit, certification and registration fees from the state Department of Consumer Protection. 

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